§ 1. Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to improve the enforcement of the law with regard to illegal trading in class A drugs.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Michael Howard)
Tackling the trade in hard drugs is a key priority for the police and customs. We do all that we can to support their efforts. The Government have a comprehensive strategy to reduce both the supply of and the demand for drugs.
§ Mr. Shaw
Will my right hon. and learned Friend congratulate those constituents of mine—and some of his—who work in the customs and in the police in our area to ensure that this country has much less drug trafficking than it might otherwise have? They are very successful and have had a number of catches recently. Will he also give every support to those involved in that work? Will he confirm that the Government want nothing to do with the trendy, lefty, liberal establishment which wants to legalise hard and soft drugs?
§ Mr. Howard
I agree with my hon. Friend, and I am delighted both to give him the confirmation which he sought and to congratulate his constituents and mine. 434 Recently, there have been some notable major seizures by the customs—500 kg of cannabis on 16 January, 30 kg of cocaine on 2 March, 20 kg of cocaine on 10 April and 20 kg of heroin by the police last month. The whole House should join my hon. Friend in congratulating the police and customs on those successes.
§ Mr. Blair
While congratulating the police and customs, may I ask the Home Secretary to agree that it is also important to take measures to cut the demand for drugs, especially among young people? Does he agree that it is appalling that some of our young people are gaining access to drugs even within their school gates? Would not it be a better idea if, instead of spending millions fiddling about with police authorities, we were to spend that money on a decent drugs education programme for our young people?
§ Mr. Howard
We spend something like £500 million a year dealing with drugs on trying to reduce both the supply of, and the demand for, drugs. If the hon. Gentleman, who I know is pretty busy at the moment, were to find the time to talk to some of the Home Office drugs prevention initiative teams up and down the country which are doing tremendous work with parents, children and schools and on the streets reducing the demand for drugs, as I have, he would see that the Government are taking the problem extremely seriously and are taking effective action to counter it.